OK, I admit I do this fairly often. It’s the suppressed English teacher in me coming through. If you are a friend or relative, I will try very hard not to voice my correction (lie or lay? who or whom? it’s or its? was or were?), but if you are a certain president, he who shall not be named, no holds are barred. That’s me yelling and sneering at the television. And I don’t confine myself to grammar: typos, incorrect spelling, and syntax are fair game. And well they should be. I fear we are the world’s laughingstock . Me? I’m crying–for so many reasons.
Oh, to have a literate (and sane) president once more.
Apparently, Steve Coogan has never seen himself as a paragon of good writing, either.
Have you ever heard another person say or write something similar to the following sentence? I myself personally am opposed to the senator’s proposal.
I myself personally find that sentence exceedingly painful. It contains a triple redundancy. Get rid of the clutter. Say what you mean. Get in, get out.
Personal and its relative personally are often redundant. Why say you have close personal friends? If they’re close friends, obviously they are people you know well. When you state, “Personally, I enjoy skiing,” that’s the way you feel. Personally adds nothing but redundant clutter.
- Proofreading involves more than looking for typos. Proofread for spelling errors, grammar and punctuation problems, content, awkward phrasing, redundancies, clichés, parallelism, jargon and slang. If that seems too much to look for on one go-through, proofread more than once, looking for just a few problems (or even one) at a time. Your readers will thank you, and your writing will show you to be a professional.
A British Mister? A Mister Misting?
Reading a news article today about current British-American relations, I came across a reference to a “British mister.” My first thought was that it referred to some British bloke (as they might say). Then I wondered if it were someone in government who was in charge of taking care of plants in government offices: watering, trimming, fertilizing, and misting them.
Obviously, the writer intended to write “minister,” but because “mister” is a word and software cannot determine context, “mister” prevailed.
Whether it’s fair or not, we are judged by the way we write. If we don’t proofread meticulously, errors will slip through and there’s a good chance we will be determined to be careless people. This can be detrimental in many areas of our lives.
Proofreading doesn’t take long. I’ve written about this before, but if we proofread silently and at our normal reading speed, we will read what we think we wrote, not what we actually wrote. Reading backwards will pick up very few errors: if you wrote the and meant they, you won’t catch it.
The most effective proofreading method is to read out loud—not as in some dramatic oration but just loudly enough that you can hear your words. It’s also important to read more slowly than your normal speed. If you do both, chances are you will write error-free text.
Beautiful Downtown Burbank (Photo credit: kla4067)
Today I came across this sentence: “[Name of restaurant] is opening its 17th storefront in Burbank.” Let me tell you, beautiful downtown Burbank and its environs are not large enough to support 17 outlets of any restaurant, not even McDonald’s. It would have been more accurate to say that the 17th outpost of this particular restaurant is opening in Burbank.
Simple proofreading, especially proofreading out loud, would have made the problem evident. It’s a good habit to develop.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned PINs associated with vehicles. Someone more sharp-eyed than I am called to my attention the fact that cars have VINS, and ATMs have PINs. But then this person suggested that perhaps car companies might, in fact, have PINs because the Supreme Court decreed that “corporations are people.” I do not agree with the Supremes in this case!
What I learned from yesterday’s mistake is that although I do proofread everything I write more than once, obviously I am reading looking for typos but don’t focus on possible errors in content. I will change my errant ways.